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There’s a new gold rush on, but it’s not about gold. It’s about land. More specifically, it’s about buying and selling land, food, water, and ultimately, resilience. A number of countries, short on arable land and water, are investing in a sort of global insurance policy. Countries like China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, with significant portions of their countries operating beyond their own water budgets, are busy making up the difference by buying up lands in water and soil-rich areas of Africa, South America and South Asia, growing crops on the acquired land and then shipping the crops (and the embedded or “virtual” water that went into growing them) back to their respective countries. The sellers, on the other hand, are giving up land, water and future resilience for, in some instances, pocket change (see Lester Brown). One might call this the “global resiliency market,” and as with any market, there are serious risks for all who participate.
by Caitlin Werrell, Francesco Femia, and Troy Sternberg
In the 1990s, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asserted that “climate migrants” would be one of the most dire consequences of climate change. This, at times contentious argument, centers on how climate change acts as a “threat multiplier,” exacerbating existing environmental and social factors that drive migration. (more…)